This profound philosophical argument analyzes the mental processes and opinions of such physicists as Maxwell, Kelvin, Tait, Fourier, Boltzmann, John Herschel, Poisson, Laplace, Joule, Ostwald, Mach, Amp?re, Nollet, Coulomb, and Cavendish who, between 1750 and 1900, considered the relationship between mathematics and experience, causing a revolution which questioned the universal applicability of Newtonian "mechanism."
xiii, 220 pages ; 24 cm
In the first part of A World on Paper Bellone establishes a unique historiographical framework and introduces the concept of the scientist's dictionary, that is, the assumptions and philosophical framework he or she brings to the study of any scientific problem. The main body of the book is then devoted to five original, interrelated essays portraying major episodes of the second scientific revolution. The topics include Kelvin's fight to maintain the experimental approach as the only valid tool of the physical scientist; Boltzmann's challenge, which argued that theory, rather than existing only as a convenient shorthand for recording the results of experimentation, plays an essential role in understanding reality; Ampere's dictionary, which, because it combined elements of mechanism with elements of abstraction, led him to grapple with the problems of electricity until the evidence of his mathematics had forced him to revise many of his mechanistic assumptions; further studies showing how the increasing use of mathematical abstraction affected the way physics was done throughout the latter 18th and 19th centuries; and a final comprehensive review of the great Boltzmann-Kelvin debate. The book concludes with notes and a bibliography, a chronology of physics in the second scientific revolution, and an index
Translation of Il mondo di carta
Includes bibliographical references and index
pt. I. Reflections on the history of the physical sciences. The scientist's dictionary -- The Galileo-Dirac proposition -- pt. II. Studies on the second scientific revolution. Herschel's lion -- In praise of theory -- The rules of the good Newtonian -- The empirical ocean and the conjectures of the Abbé Nollet -- The paper world and Kelvin's clouds -- A chronology of physics in the second scientific revolution